The Regional Review

Volume V - Nos. 2 & 3

August-September, 1940

Service Fellows at Yale


Each fall for five years one or two members of the National Park Service have been arriving at New Haven, Connecticut, for the purpose of undertaking nine months intensive study at Yale University. Each individual has been the recipient of a fellowship for "general studies" and has come with the aim of improving self and Service. The reward has not been a university degree, for this represents proficiency in some specialized field. Instead, it has been the opportunity for one to concentrate on the attainment of a broader scholastic background. Such a background has become a necessity for those who deal with national park problems in conservation or education, since they require continually greater precision and accuracy in handling.

It has been the experience of all Yale fellows, moreover, that the actual learning of facts is only one of numerous advantages that result from a year in graduate studies. Of intangible nature, and therefore difficult to evaluate on a definite scale, are such features as the attainment of a new perspective (especially important to a man whose work has been confined to the details of specialized problems within a park), and the stimulation of close association with leaders in many fields of endeavor. Furthermore, renewed acquaintance with cultural activities such as concerts, plays, and other forms of mental stimulation play an important role in developing a broader viewpoint. Even the New Haven weather -- long famous for its beastliness -- serves a useful purpose, giving one a better appreciation of the climate at home, wherever that may be!

After reading of the many personal advantages to be gained by a year at Yale, one may well ask, "What about the benefits to the National Park Service? Clearly, the improvement of the individual 1s an advantage to the organization, but cannot this be obtained equally well on the job -- by the route of practical experience -- thus eliminating certain personal sacrifices which necessarily must accompany acceptance of the fellowship?" The answer, in my opinion, 1s "No." As in most fields of endeavor, a happy medium between theory and practice brings the best measure of success.

Under the provisions of the Yale Fellowship a man may obtain special training which will equip him to meet more competently particular problems in research such as commonly appear in all of the parks. He may learn new methods to apply in the planting of fish, he may attain more efficiency in the development of vegetation sample plots, or he may bring up to date his technique in the petrographic examination of rocks. On the other hand, he will also obtain much general knowledge which will prove invaluable in the important field of interpreting the national parks to visitors. As an outstanding example, I think of the thousands of questions asked every year in various parks concerning the nature and cause of mountain-building, yet realize how seldom a reasonably comprehensive but accurate statement covering this subject is given in reply. At Yale an excellent course, including a discussion of the principal facts and theories involved, is given each year, thus making the pertinent data available to be passed on to workers in the parks. This is but one of numerous courses that might be cited as definite opportunities for improving the caliber of the educational programs in the parks.

Other advantages of the Yale Fellowship to the National Park Service are of the type usually classed as by-products. For instance, in certain courses, term papers are required and these, in the case of Service Fellows, usually pertain to national park problems. Thus many data are gathered, taking advantage of the splendid university library, which ultimately are available for use in some park program. This year, for example, a paper was written by Naturalist Russell Grater on the history of the mountain goat in America with special emphasis on the fossil form found in Boulder Dam National Recreational Area. Others were prepared by me on the development of a new species of tassel-eared squirrels as a result of Grand Canyon acting as a barrier, and on the interrelationships between continental and marine rocks of Permian age through out northern Arizona. None of these papers should be considered a finished treatise, yet each represents an accumulation of many useful facts.

The fellowship was established in 1935 by the Yale University Advisory Committee on General Studies to be "awarded to individuals engaged in some type of adult education." A member of the committee recently defined its policy by stating that it is "interested only in young men of real promise who can obtain a year's leave from their present duties, come to us with (the Service's) endorsement, and return after their year here to their regular positions."

On April 15, 1935, the first fellowship made available by the American Association for Adult Education was awarded to Park Naturalist Frank Brockman of Mount Rainier National Park. In 1936 and succeeding years, the Carnegie Corporation of New York made funds available for the fellowship. It was received by Dale S. King of the Southwestern Monuments in 1937, and from 1937 on to the present there have been two recipients each year. These were Malcolm E. Gardner, Henry W. Lix, William E. Kearns, Merril J. Mattes, Russell K. Grater, and Edwin D. McKee. All have found it a valuable, worthwhile and pleasant experience and we extend best wishes to our successors of 1940-41, George C. Ruhle and Bernarr Bates.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002